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If you are an outdoor lover who enjoys hiking, camping or trips in the wilderness, you understand how quickly a bottle of water can be consumed. The intense heat of the sun and sweating profusely can require you to drink more to stay hydrated. Water can be consumed quickly and you can run out fast. 

This can be particularly true in a disaster situation where clean water might not be available for a while. An earthquake, flood, hurricane or other disaster can damage water and sewer lines making fresh water unavailable for homes and families until water lines are repaired or help comes. Drinking unclean and unsafe water can lead to disease and death.

If you are in a situation where you need to find clean water to drink, here are some ideas.


Water Heater Tank

Be sure to turn off the electricity or gas before you unplug the drain at the bottom of your water heater tank. This water is already filtered water, and unless you fear it’s been contaminated, it should be safe to drink.


Toilet Tank

If your toilet isn’t too old or dirty, the tank behind it with the removable lid can be a good source of clean water to drink. This is water that comes from your tap. Do not use water from the tank if you have used any cleaner tablets of bluing agents in the tank. 


Stored Water

Store water in food-grade clean containers now before a disaster happens. Rinse out and thoroughly clean used 2 liter soda containers or plastic juice jugs and fill them with tap water. You can store these in your closet, behind beds, in your basement, under furniture or wherever you have room. You can also use container made for water storage like 5 gallon jugs, 55 gallon drums or the stack-able WaterBrick containers. It is suggested that water storage be rotated every six months to 1 year. If not rotated, then have a means to filter if needed. Have some water stored on hand can be a lifesaver in the event of a disaster.



If you can collect rainwater in rain barrels or buckets attached to the downspouts from the roof of your home, it can be your main substitute water next to your stored potable drinking water. Rainwater will still need to be strained, filtered and purified before you drink it. 


Sillcock Key

A sillcock 4-way key is an inexpensive preparedness item that you can find and purchase online. It gives you access to emergency water in commercial buildings like entertainment venues, mall strips, ball parks, golf courses, government buildings, rest stops and so forth. Even if the water is turned off in a building, there can still be water in the pipes. Simply locate the water spigot on any business or public building and use the sillcock key to turn the spigot on. Have a bucket or hose ready to collect the water. The Sillcock key can be used where an adjustable wrench or pliers will not. 


Avoid Standing Water

Pools and puddles of water are typically a focal point for bacteria and other harmful toxins. While this water can be purified, it will probably taste bad and might contain other harmful substances that are more difficult to filter out. Brown or muddy reddish water can be a sign of rust particles or other harmful substances and  must be avoided. Most purification methods typically won’t be effective in this case and the water could be dangerous to consume. 


Boiling to Purify Water

If you have any water that you are not sure if it is safe to drink, you will want to purify it. One of the oldest and most proven ways to purify water is by boiling. 

To purify by boiling, first pour the water through a clean piece of cloth or a coffee filter to strain out the visible dirt and debris. Then heat up the water in a pot until it starts to boil. It’s best for the water to reach a boiling point of 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius to destroy pathogens, if you have a thermometer to check. 

Allow the water to boil for a minute or so to ensure it is completely up to temperature and anything living in the water is killed. Boiling for too long will cause you to lose some of it to water vapor. You might want to cover it with a lid so that any water you lose to vapor will collect and condense again in the pot. 

You also want to note that while boiling water will kill bacteria and dangerous living organisms, it won’t do anything to salts, chemicals or rust. It also won’t change the taste of the water due to minerals or substances that make it taste bad. 


Pool Shock to Purify Water

Calcium Hypochlorite or pool shock can be a bleach substitute for purifying water. It’s long shelf-life and affordability make it a good choice to have on hand when needed. It also takes up less space than liquid bleach. The EPA states that you can use granular calcium hypochlorite to disinfect water.

Create a chlorine solution: Put one teaspoon of granular calcium hypochlorite (about ¼ ounce) into ONE gallon of water and allow to dissolve. This blend creates a stock chlorine solution.

To disinfect water: Add ¾ ounce of the chlorine solution to treat ONE gallon of water. 

[The ratio to use is one-part chlorine solution to 100-parts water to be treated. This is about equal to adding 16 ounces (1 pint) of stock chlorine to 12.5 gallons of water.] 

To get rid of any unwanted chlorine smell, aerate the disinfected water by pouring it back and forth between two cups or canisters. This is true for bleach purified water, or stored water as well. 


Chlorine Bleach to Purify Water

You can use regular, unscented chlorine bleach to disinfect your water. Check the label that it contains 6 or 8.25% sodium hypochlorite. Avoid using color safe, scented or bleaches with added cleaners. Be sure to filter the water getting out any debris or sediments first. 

Then use 16 drops (¼ tsp) of chlorine bleach to purify TWO gallon of water or 8 drops to purify ONE gallon. If the water is cloudy, cold or colored then double this amount. Stir the water and allow to stand for 30 minutes.  


Iodine to Purify Water

If using tincture of iodine, use 2 drops per quart of water if clear, and 10 drops per quart of water if cloudy. Allow it to stand for 30 minutes to kill pathogens in the water. Iodine tincture will change the flavor and color of the water. 

If using iodine tablets, follow the instructions on the packet or bottle. Typically it requires 2 tablets per quart of water. Again, after it dissolves allow the water to sit for 30 minutes before drinking. 


Drinking Straws to Filter Water

There are a variety of different water purification straws available that filter and/or purify water. These are great for stashing in your backpack, emergency kits, car glove box or purse. They come in small packaging and allow for drinking water in a survival situation to be simple and easy. With all the different types and brands, the reader would want to research what is best for his own needs. But these are a great item to have on hand for emergency water purification and filtration. 


Water Filters

You can find an array of water filters for sale in stores and online. Some of the more known ones are Apec, Pur, Brita, Berkey, and Sawyer and others. Having a water filter in your home can make it easier in an emergency to filter your tap water or stored water after a disaster or contamination. Reader should research which filter is the best for his own needs. 


SODIS – Solar Disinfection to Purify Water

One inexpensive and sustainable solution to get clean drinking water is through SODIS which is disinfecting the water through the power of the sun. Get a clean and clear bottle, PET plastic is preferred but glass can be used sometimes as well. Fill with water to the top and screw on the cap tightly. Place the bottle in the sun. It’s most effective to place bottles on a reflective surface like a steel roof if possible. Keep in the sun for a full six hours and then water is safe to drink. If the sky has been cloudy during this time, you will have to increase the time. 

The SODIS solution has been an effective way to combat water-borne diseases that can be spread from dirty drinking water. 


Sand to Filter Water

If you do not have any water filtering technology, you can go back to the basics. Use an empty clean container and place a clean piece of cloth or shirt over it then fill it with sand or soil which will be your filter. This method can remove particles and sediments, but there is no assurance that is will remove bacteria or harmful pathogens from the water. 


Disclaimer. The content in this article is for informational purposes only and not meant to replace your own thorough research and common sense. By reading and applying any information or resources from this article, you agree to use this information in a safe and legal manner, consistent with all safety rules, and applicable laws.